Enduring faith unhurt by Black Nazarene feast changes to protect vs COVID
MANILA, Philippines—A devotee of the Black Nazarene for 14 years now, 29-year-old Den Acera would have wanted to experience the Traslacion again, which has been suspended since 2021 because of COVID-19 threats.
He told INQUIRER.net that he was only 15 years old when he started joining the Traslacion—the procession that commemorates the transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene from Intramuros to Quiapo some 400 years back.
Acera, who counts himself as member of the Barangay Damayang Lagi chapter of the Nazarene devotee group Hijos del Nazareno, said the Traslacion, which was last held on Jan. 9, 2020, is so important for devotees like him.
“Through the Traslacion, we are not only able to express our deep devotion to the Black Nazarene as it also gives us all a chance to show our solidarity even if we do not know each other,” he said.
This was the reason that he stressed that bringing back the Traslacion would “greatly elate him and all devotees” of the Black Nazarene, a dark wooden image of Jesus Christ that was said to have been brought to the Philippines in 1606.
But because of the continuing threat of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Acera’s wish may remain just that as officials of the Quiapo Church and the local government unit of Manila decided that the Traslacion will remain suspended this year.
READ: No ‘Traslacion’ in 2023, says Quiapo Church priest
Instead, a Walk of Faith without the image of the Black Nazarene will be held from Quirino Grandstand to Quiapo Church on Sunday (Jan. 8) after midnight Mass that will be presided over by Rev. Fr. Rufino Sescon Jr.
“I am thankful that there will be a procession—Walk of Faith—this year. Even if it is not like the Traslacion that we have experienced through the years, we believe that it is still an opportunity for us to express our faith in Him,” said Acera.
As stressed by officials of the Quiapo Church—Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene—even without the 400-year-old image, the Walk of Faith will be a solemn and prayerful procession where devotees are invited to bring candles and rosaries.
It is expected to start at 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 8, the eve of the feast of the Black Nazarene and will end at 4 a.m., so the Walk of Faith will last for less than three hours, way shorter than the Traslacion in previous years.
Looking back, the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene, which has drawn millions of devotees over the years, took 20 hours in 2016, 22 hours in 2017 and 2018, 21 hours in 2019, and 16 hours in 2020.
RELATED STORY: Black Nazarene returns to Quiapo after 20 hours
Likewise, officials of the Quiapo Church said there will be changes in the list of areas where the Walk of Faith will pass as this year’s procession will cover only 20 areas, including Quirino Grandstand and Quiapo Church.
- Quirino Grandstand
- Katigbak Road
- Padre Burgos Street
- Jones Bridge
- Dasmariñas Street
- Palanca Street
- Quezon Blvd.
- Arlegui Street
- Casal Street
- Concepcion Street
- Carcer Street
- Hidalgo Street
- Bilibid Viejo/ G. Puyat Street
- Guzman Street
- Hidalgo Street
- Quezon Boulevard
- Palanca Street
- Villalobos Street
- Quiapo Church
As stated by officials of the Manila Police District (MPD), some five million devotees are expected to participate in the Walk of Faith, while 5,000 policemen will be deployed to this year’s festivities.
Do’s and don’ts
Based on guidelines issued by the Quiapo Church, only single-hand carried images or replicas of the Black Nazarene that are not over two feet in size will be allowed in the procession.
RELATED STORY: A look back at the celebration of the Black Nazarene feast from the past 3 years
Likewise, because of COVID-19, devotees are encouraged to always observe minimum public health standards, like wearing of face masks, maintaining physical distance, and bringing hand sanitizers.
Devotees are advised to bring government issued identification cards, too.
Officials of the Quiapo Church said devotees are also allowed to bring rosaries, small religious items, water canister, sandwiches, cellphones, registered VHF radio, and transparent raincoats.
The rest of the items that one can bring in the Walk of Faith are shoes and slippers, small cameras, wheelchairs, light portable chairs, small flashlights, small candles, waist bags (subject to inspection), and clear plastic garbage bags.
Both church and government officials, however, reminded devotees that estandartes or banners, andas or carriage, and firearms and deadly weapons will be strictly prohibited in the procession.
READ: No guns or drones in Manila for Black Nazarene events
Pyrotechnic devices, drone cameras, professional camera and video recorder, large bags, tents, tables, umbrellas, alcoholic beverages, deadly weapons, and plastic and glass bottles will also be barred.
Still no pahalik
Changes in the feast this year also include the celebration of three midnight Masses at the Quirino Grandstand on Jan. 7, 8 and 9, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene said. There will also be a 6 a.m. Mass on Jan. 7.
The Masses, all at midnight, will be presided over by Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang (Jan. 7), Sescon (Jan. 8), and Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula (Jan. 9), who, last year, appealed for understanding over the changes related to the feast.
The Masses at the Quiapo Church on Jan. 9, meanwhile, will be at 12 a.m., 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m, 7 p.m., 9 p.m., 10 p.m., and 11 p.m.
The image of the Black Nazarene will be exhibited at the Quirino Grandstand starting Jan. 7, but there will be no pahalik or the traditional kissing of the dark wooden image, which is believed by millions of people to be miraculous.
Instead, devotees are encouraged to take part in the Pagpupugay, or praying near the image, by queuing at a designated entrance lane at the grandstand’s South Drive and exiting through Katigbak Drive.
As stated by Alex Irasga, technical adviser for the celebration of the feast this year, there will be separate lines for persons with disability (PWD), the elderly, and the sick.
Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna, meanwhile, issued Executive Order Nos. 1 and 2 to impose a liquor ban as well as declare class suspension in the City of Manila on Jan. 9.
READ: Manila suspends work, classes on Jan. 9 for Black Nazarene feast
The MPD said some roads in Manila will also be closed to traffic starting Jan. 6.
The stretch of Katigbak Drive, Independence Road, South Drive, Northbound and Southbound lanes of Roxas Blvd. from South Drive to Katigbak Drive will be closed to traffic starting 10 p.m. of Jan. 6 to Jan. 9.
The following roads will be closed from 12:01 a.m. of Jan. 8 until Jan. 9:
- Northbound and southbound lanes of Quezon Boulevard from A. Mendoza/Fugoso to Quezon Bridge straight to P. Burgos (Park N’ Ride)
- Westbound and eastbound lanes of España Boulevard from P. Campa to A. Mendoza
- Stretch of Evangelista St. from Plaza San Juan to C.M. Recto Ave.
- Stretch of Raon St. from Evangelista to Quezon Blvd.
- Stretch of P. Paterno St. from Quezon Blvd. to Evangelista
- Stretch of Carriedo St. from Rizal Ave. to Plaza San Juan
- Stretch of C. Palanca St. from Macarthur Bridge to Quiapo Ilalim (Quinta Market) straight to P. Casal
- Stretch of Bustos St. from Plaza Sta. Cruz to Rizal Ave.
- The northbound lane of Rizal Ave. from Carriedo to C.M. Recto Ave.
- The northbound lane of McArthur Bridge
Affected motorists, the MPD said, could take the following detour routes:
- All trucks and trailer trucks coming from Delpan Bridge shall turn around at Anda Circle to the northbound lane of Mel Lopez Blvd. to C-3 to the point of destination.
- All light vehicles coming from Bonifacio Drive using the southbound lane of Roxas Blvd. shall turn left at P. Burgos, right Ma. Orosa, right to TM. Kalaw left to M.H. Del Pilar or left to Roxas Blvd. Southbound to the point of destination.
- Light vehicles plying the northbound lane of Roxas Blvd. shall turn right to TM Kalaw, then turn left to Ma. Orosa left to P. Burgos to the point of destination.
- All trucks and trailer trucks intending to use the northbound lane of Roxas Boulevard shall turn right to Quirino Avenue to Plaza Dilao to the point of destination.
- All vehicles coming from McArthur and Jones Bridge intending to utilize the southbound lane of Roxas Blvd. from P. Burgos shall take Round Table, then to Ma. Orosa or use Taft Avenue to the point of destination.
- All vehicles intending to utilize Quezon Blvd. coming from A. Mendoza shall turn right to Fugoso St., left to Rizal Ave. or Severino Reyes St. to the point of destination.
- All vehicles coming from Quezon City using the westbound lane of España Blvd. shall turn left to Tomas Mapua St. (Morayta), turn right to C.M. Recto Ave. or turn right to P. Campa St., to Fugoso St. to the point of destination.
- Vehicles coming from P. Burgos Ave. intending to ply Quezon Bridge or McArthur Bridge shall go straight to Jones Bridge to the point of destination.
- Vehicles coming from Ayala Bridge intending to traverse Palanca St. shall go straight to P. Casal St. to the point of destination.
RELATED STORY: MMDA to deploy 730 personnel during Feast of Black Nazarene
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